With one week left, the Naval Academy class of 2010 braces for one of the most exciting points of their lives. For four years they have been privy to one of the most celebrated and respected educations in the world. That being said, I am confused why with a week until graduation and thus the largest pay promotion of their careers they skimp of giving back. The Naval Academy Alumni Foundation set up the 'First Gift Program' two years ago to get newly commissioned classes contributing to the Foundation. The class of 2008 had nearly 60% participation and the class of 2009 had the increased participation of 70%. As of 10 days before graduation, the class of 2010 has the participation of 27%. 'Its discouraging', said our Class President, reflecting on the poor participation.
The recession seems a likely culprit, but what about the class of '09 then? It seems like the today's Firsties have just seen too much go wrong at the Naval Academy. It appears that the degradation of the founding principles, which may seem commonplace to younger classes, actually struck at home. 'Why would I want to contribute to this place?', said one Firstie. 'My values, and those of this institution no longer agree', said another. Perhaps the Marcus Curry exceptions, World Series Color Guard exclusions, and countless other instances were not just 'waved off' as Washington politics or bad leadership but rather defining character statements of the Naval Academy. Midshipmen used to believe in 'US' verse 'THE MAN'. It was a point of pride to fight 'THE MAN', because Midshipmen knew what the Naval Academy should be. Midshipmen knew what the Naval Academy meant!
With the class of 2010, cynicism has subsided to a feeling of disgust for what has happened. They no longer fight 'THE MAN', because it seems like there is little to fight for! They sit behind closed doors voicing their complaints to close friends, justifiably scared of retaliation if the wrong set of ears were to hear. Occasionally a Plebe is invited into the circle of trust. Much like their Firsties did to them, the soon to be graduates share their thoughts on today's policies and their recollection of how it used to be.
The Firsties have never known a Honor system that didn't favor an athlete, a minority or a privileged child. The Firsties have never even known conduct or separation policies that didn't do the same. They have spent four years watching good men and women, whom honorably faulted in grades and conduct be separated. For four years they understood that that decision was not their's to make or even scrutinize, because of the nature of their future duties as officers. Then, with frighteningly increasing frequency they have watched the un-honorable, unqualified and un-dedicated be retained for reasons of athletic and statistical contribution.
Twenty-seven percent reflects the number of 2010 graduates contributing to the Alumni Foundation fund. It reflects those who want to give back to Alumni Foundation sponsored programs, but also those who want nothing more than to build a fountain in 20 years. If money talks, which might explain why Football has such a big ear to the Superintendent, than the Alumni Foundation should be singing hymns soon. It will only be a matter of time before Alumnus choose to spend their money is a wiser place, because good football has begun to cost a hefty price.
Monday, May 24, 2010
A note from a member of the USNA Class of 2010 ... speaking here things that cannot be spoken openly. The rest of the post belongs the author. I can't confirm the numbers ... but if they are incorrect, let me know. I'm running with 'em though. It's a blog for goodness sakes .....